Kaizen - The Guiding Principles

As Christmas and the New Year approach so our minds are crammed full of so much information, some of which will not necessarily relate to work. However, for those of us who don not particularly like unpleasant surprises, being prepared is a positive - it reduces stress and gives us an opportunity to relax when everyone around us is in panic mode.

The Tenant Fee Ban is upon us, as us possible mandatory client money protection and full-regulation of letting agents. So what next you ask? We have no set-time frames for the legislature changes, yet we have an idea of what the criteria will be.

Kaizen is a Japanese word which means "Change for the Better". The change in question could be a one-off, continuous, significant or quite tiny. The key is to ensure that the changes being made are beneficial to the organisation. Whilst the Tenant Fee Ban has been identified as having a negative impact on the Lettings industry, under Kaizen we will all be responsible for identifying gaps and I inefficiencies where improvements can be made.

For example, Kaizen focuses on productivity, safety , waste reduction. It appears that we could on apply Kaizen to manufacturing, this is not the case.

Kaizen will assist in the following way:-

  1. Improved teams - involve your employees in problem-solving and helping identify different opportunities. This will build and strengthen your team.
  2. Less waste - just think about how much paper your agency wastes. How much does it cost to issue an AST, Prescribed Information, EPC, Gas Safety Certificate, How to Rent Guide, Terms of Business for Tenancy deposit scheme? The cost should include printing costs and manpower. At the press of a button you could reduce your outgoings significantly. With improved resources, you become more efficient.
  3. People - consumers and staff are more satisfied as the processes are more streamlined and a more effective customer service app can be put in place.
  4. Improved competitiveness increases efficiency which contributes to lower outgoings and a much improved level of service.

Muda - Waste not, Want Not

Another element of Kaizen is Muda, which means "Waste".

The following may apply to your agency:-

  • Movement- ensuring that your negotiators have diarised appointments within the same areas within a set time of day, rather than driving back and forth.
  • Having a "document hub" in a shared drive on the server/in the cloud, so that information is centrally located rather than wasting time searching in different locations
  • Setting a tight agenda for meetings without wasting time. Opt for the same time of day , week, month,
  • Keep a log of practices that are inefficient and too costly.
  • Make use of down-time to identify areas where there is a "waste". Give your team the opportunity to give some input.

Most important of all, plan when you are going to make these changes. You need to make sure there is a balance between daily tasks and avoiding "change overload".

Susie Crolla - CEO